News; News & Events

ONTARIO, CANADA: Government releases summary of consultations on minimum income pilot

The government of Ontario has released an overview of the results of three months of public consultations on the design of the province’s impending “Basic Income Pilot”.

The provincial government of Ontario, Canada is currently designing a pilot study of a guaranteed minimum income (a “basic income” in its terminology [note]), which it plans to launch in the spring of 2017. On November 3, 2016, project advisor Hugh Segal released the paper “Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income Pilot Project for Ontario” to serve as the focus of discussions on the design of the pilot (see the summary in Basic Income News). Concurrent with the publication of the paper, Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services released a call for feedback from the public via public meetings, online surveys, and written submissions.

Public consultations continued through January 31, 2017, and, in the end, 32,870 people responded to the public online survey, 1193 attended the public meetings, and at least 537 individuals and community groups submitted written feedback–according to a newly released summary of the results of the consultations.

The new report, “Basic Income Consultations: What We Heard” (March 2017), provides an overview of feedback received from the public, although no details have yet been provided as to how this feedback will inform or influence the design of the pilot.

One issue addressed in the consultations was which of the potential measurable outcomes were most important to Ontarians. Segal suggested ten in his discussion paper, and consultations revealed “general agreement” that, of these, four were “particularly important” to residents: health, housing, food, and work behavior.

The level of the minimum income was also a topic of discussion–with the widely announced amount of $1320 per month called into question by some. This $1320 per month amount, which Segal recommended in his discussion paper, was based on a calculation of 75% of the Low-Income Measure (LIM). Some participants in public hearings recommended instead that the minimum income be set at 100% of the LIM.

Participants also discussed the selection of sites for the pilot, with widespread agreement that a variety of locations should be chosen, representing urban, rural, and northern areas, but that the government should also strive to focus on areas of greatest need (i.e. highest poverty rates).

Read about other results here.


[note] As is common in Canada, the Ontario government uses the term ‘basic income’ more broadly than does BIEN. The report above, for example, describes a basic income as a “payment from the government to a person or family to ensure they receive a minimum income level” and lays out several methods of implementing such a policy: “giving the same amount of money to everyone” (i.e. the specific approach that organizations like BIEN refer to as a “basic income”, sometimes also called a “demogrant”), “topping up the incomes of people who earn less than a certain amount”, and “setting up a system where people who earn less than a certain amount get a payment from the government, instead of paying taxes” (i.e. a negative income tax).

Often, ‘basic income’ is used to refer specifically to schemes in which all members of a community receive an equal amount of money, paid to individuals, while a term like ‘guaranteed minimum income’ is applied to the broader category of “payment[s] from the government to a person or family to ensure they receive a minimum income level”. Thus, although the Ontario government has titled its project “Basic Income Pilot”, it might be more accurate to describe it as a “minimum income pilot” to avoid confusion with BIEN’s more specific use of ‘basic income’.

Segal himself strongly recommended that the pilot avoid testing a “demogrant” (“universal basic income”) in favor of a negative income tax. However, as the new report reveals, some participants in the consultations suggested the adoption of a demogrant model.

Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan

Photo (Ottawa, Ontario) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Stuart Williams 

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Josh farrington

    Oshawa has some of lowest job accesibilty….do it up here as part of the pilot program…

  • Rod

    Alot of talk zero action!!!! .. .Wouldnt it be better to just raise the Ow /ODSP rates ..? Everyone knows the huge need .Government already admits the current system is very broken as it stands. . .So why make many wait another 3 long horrible years to see if a project works or not ..The need is here now .Not 3 years from now .. .Raise the rates stop all this talk and hurting more people by the lack of info out there ..It stresses many out beyond and over the top hearing about better days and never seeing it …Do you have any idea the huge stress the talking is doing to those suffering at this very moment? It makes many very upset to hear all these hopes of a better day and then to hear you must wait 3 more years to even get a slight hope of better days .. .Raise the rates and get on with it .. Why make those who need it today suffer 3 more years? WHY??? (Unless your in the lucky lotto secret towns or city they choose) Your outta luck for any hope today..

    • Mena P.

      Totally agree. with you.

    • Serf Jester

      This mentality is needed to lead society. Also, I personally find it extremely disgraceful when basic incomes are experimented with a subset of a population, such as a deathly poor location, to experiment with how it will “play out”, implying that these are just test subjects and not actual people and that we can just do science with their lives as if we own them. Because, it is clear as crystal that people who are suffering from poverty are doing so from the absence of money. And it has been experimented with before many times already. And it has been debated for arguably 600 years.

  • Mary

    Rod, I totally agree with you. I think that at least ow and odsp should all start now and not wait we been dealing with stress and less money for a long time. I read online everyday to hear new news on basic income and it really is the same old things nothing new…and to think we would have to wait 3 or so yrs if our city Dont get picked. Start it now for everyone don’t make us wait we are living poorly now and will continue till there is full help. We already know this is going to work …it has worked before and in different place of the world … why wouldn’t it work. This is so stressful waiting each day to find out which city’s are picked and who has to wait. I just wish there was no waiting when we are living poorly now.

  • Mena P.

    Some people will receive help for 3 years? The rest of US?
    I need help today, don’t know if i will be around in 3 years,and my torture is today.
    Very unfair.
    I have no complaints in helping any human in need, such as all the new comers to our country, but i would like to think that I mean something as a citizen.
    I believe our Government has an obligation to take care of their own first.
    I did my share of contributing to our system, I live on a disability pension of a $1,000. a month, Rent, Food and everything else.
    This is only a massive message of future hope by our government, only to have a huge let down in 3 years.
    People such as myself, don’t want to deal with all the politics, your poor, and disabled citizens need help today.

  • Herb Adams

    A lot of talk , can’t help but think this is another ploy. Used prior to the Ontario election , to
    Get the liberal party re-elected and Wynn. Re-elected , . After srewing up the hydro deal resulting. In huge hydro rate increases ( What more can we exspect. ) In broken promises
    The very people who worked all their life paid taxes , their taxes paid built Canada , many
    Citizens are forced to live below the poverty line , with their pensions not providing a sufficient
    Income to meet their basic needs . To add insult to injury the Ontario, free money program
    Is (!not availble to anyone over 65 )’ these are the people who desperately. Need the help,
    To top it off since the liberal party took power it has spent billions of dollars , met only 15% of
    Promises Made to get elected , what about our citizens . ? Guaranteed. If the politicians. Were
    Forced to live on Canada pension , they would the biggest supporters of basic income
    Time the government stood up to the promises made to get elected , stop giving 3rd world
    Countries billions of dollars , while the very people who helped build Canada (!its citizens )’
    Are forced to do without . Not to forget Truedue. Recent vacation which cost the tax payer $127,000
    Most important why do we need to wait. 3 years to get something that everyone was promised when first announce

  • Che Guevera

    3 years we will all have taken up arms

  • Surviving Barely

    Raise the rates for OW and ODSP the poorest of the poor can’t wait 3 years

    • abc xyz

      I agree. It shouldn’t just be a measly 1000 randomly picked low income people then another 2000 guinea pigs for the control group (who will obviously not be BETTER OFF), then another 1000 randomly picked in a different city.

  • Sovereign Soldier

    This is insane. Why not spend more money and give everyone without income and on ontario works (not odsp) a spike rise of 300$ a month so they make 1000$ in total? that would solve many issues. Why not ODSP too? Because out of 99% of people on ODSP I have ever seen, they dont struggle. they get from 1200-1900$ a month and most of them spend it very foolishly. On bran name products and crap they do not really need. While OW patrons only get 700 which isnt even enough to cover rent these days when even a room rental is 5-600 in Kingston, On. Alone! I don’t think the government will ever do this, its been all talk since 2015

  • Darlene kantor

    Hi my name is Darlene kantor lm a disabled. Person working. Right now put in near future l will be loseing my job. I would like this to start soon. Peaple in smiths falls live in poverty. Becouse thiers no work .most of are factoryes closed. The poverty is bad. Like l said lm working now l had no choice to work .years ago l was under wight. Becouse l couldn’t afford rent food or basic needs. And today l work. Put my job will soon be gone. Please stop makeing peaple believe this basic income income is comeing we need to see the Goverment keep thier word.not make peaple wait and hope.please pick smiths falls ont.we need the help badly.thank. my regards Darlene kantor

  • Wow! So, it went from a providence wide program to three citys. What is wrong with you polititons? This is proof you all are out of touch with your citizen’s. ALSO, if you take the number of the population times .04 cents. Basically the the recent carbon tax you guys implemented. That affects everything even food. You get you get around 255,000 dollars. And that’s if every person spent one dollar all at one time. Now if you compound that to a realistic number be cause you can you buy anything for a dollar. AND people tend to buy more than one thing at a time. It is astronomical. Not to mention all the rest of the tax you tax before you apply the carbon tax. It’s a tax on a tax. The money is their for a providence wide program. This is what I figured the tax implacation was for. You don’t have to be an economists to figure out we are getting screwed. It is simple math. And then their is Hydro. You want to know the real reason we are getting bent over at the meter? Could it have to do with all of the Ceo’s they have had that don’t spend more than a year and a half or so. And they get to walk away with a golden hand shake and a jucy severance package. It a masses me you think we don’t know what is going on. And how despicable was it for Hydro one to, once ombudsman finally decided to investigate. Our great Ontario government. Decided to privatise Hydro one. Which nullified the investigation from Ombudsman. Because they can’t investigate a private company. Bunch of vipers if you ask me.

  • jay

    Honestly they should do it province wide theres gonna be an outcry that one person on odsp and o.w. makes more and in another community the ofsp and o.w. still has to suffer i think they should actually do the project on odsp and o.w province wide first best way to do a project itll hit most of the poverty liberals wanna be true dont pick three communities pick odsp and o.w province wide instead that will be fair and make the project equal .

  • Sandra Laliberte

    My husband took ill three years ago, on Canada disabilitie, he doesn’t even make enough to pay our rent.
    I work two jobs just to support us.
    There will come a time in the near future I will have to stay home and take care of my husband.
    I’m not sure how we will survive.
    So yes I totally agree with a basic income.

  • V

    Increase OW and ODSP province wide now instead of 3 places for 3 years. Or do the whole province all at once for everyone now. If it doesn’t work now… won’t work in 3 years and people aren’t going to wait.

  • Maurice Fortin

    Wouldnt it be better to just raise the Ow /ODSP rates.

    FK THAT. the proposed project IMO should be Canada wide for 3 years NOW not in a year or 2 from now, not just X places and they sort it out if they decide to proceed(tens of billions WASTED on numerous fraudulent programs NOW ahem like ontario hydro where TAX PAYERS paid to get it installed in the first place, pay hand over fist to BUY the power THEY ALREADY PAID FOR, it gets privatized, then bought back, and they want to sell/privatize AGAIN LMAO $ bouncing from one sector to another with excuses given “we do this so you pay less” my arse we do)

    Why I state my first quip, because the current system of OW/ODSP such low limitations on what you are allowed to make, how much you are allowed having in your bank accounts, etc. basic income has no strings attached to it whereas social “assitance” is anything but assitance when it is below poverty line. just trying to get ahead, get a few hours they claw back amounts, have a bit of savings, you get cut off, your house or car is worth to much when everything starts falling apart, oops no assitance available at all, the rules/regs used in nearly all “assitance” for EI/OW/ODSP/CPP/WSIB/WCC etc leave so much to be desired it is un-real, if you do not think this, they you have NOT been there first hand, or are completely ignorant of the truth.

    “go out get a job/better paying job quit yer bitchin” yeh, cause life is always SO easy for everyone to get ahead and make thousands per month and never be out of work etc etc.

    $1320/mth+ whatever you manage to make part time(which seems these days to be the average at minimum wage ~15hrs per week) you can actually manage to get ahead, and be closer to the “golden rule” of housing being ~30% of disposable income leaving the remainder for monthly living expenses and saving up for things you want eventually type deal, must be nice to just get them high paying jobs, silver spoon opportunities given to you huh, not everyone has this happen, full stop.

    Put millions/billions towards “upping the rates for those currently on OW/ODSP” would have little impact to the vast majority that actually need the assistance, and would have ZERO impact on the BROKEN other systems where if you made above X you get nothing, and if happen to quit/fire/just cause often enough you get told “we cant help you” so pay/paid into something you will never be able to get, i.e WASTE that is bounced from one program to another creating more waste via administration alone vs just a flat made X get Y, owe Z type system that can EASILY be accomplished.

    The current system is designed that either you are doing well, doing amazingly well, or are everyone else, just scrapping by or lord forbid starving/living on the street in a first world country.

    B.I is the best way forward, it save BILLIONS per year on multiple inefficient programs that is up to “rules and regs” if you get the assitance you need and if do not meet up with them, paperwork was lost, payments are made late etc, you get “cut off” of face an overpayment situation or find out for the next X amount of time you get less.

    Instead j can just look at a persons tax records(and hey, as long as your are a legal age Canadian, maybe it means those living with nothing literally, can actually get a proper place to live imagine that, cause current EI/OW/ODSP/CPP/WSIB etc you need to have a legit address or you get nada, just imagine you made too much, house blew up or whatever, and current rules state based on previous tax year “we cant help”) this can help those that need the help maybe get into a position to help others future, as well as better able to afford their day to day living without having to constantly worry about if things were submitted on time, if they made too much etc.

    Just basic example say 50k is “base” amount NON TAXABLE(based on previous year tax records) this means anything above this amount is then taxable(at the rate based on amount gained) as EI CPP etc would already be figured into the amounts if not done away with outright (they are horribly designed, inefficient, costly programs, wasted funds to “administer” OW/ODSP/WSIB etc just add waste upon waste) so would be like “combined income” 61,478 before can be “taxed” at least in ontario every province would have a different minimum before can be taxed added to or minus the 50k mark for example Saskatchewan would be 50k +9139 almost all other provinces being 50k+ 11,478 before taxable)

    Anything below is given back on tax day type deal(so kind of a top up kind of not, and wouldnt have to worry about GST/Trillium etc so there is a massive amount of paperwork/funds saved as well) so if you only made 10k for current tax year, the following year you get 40k divided per month EXTRA NON TAXABLE “top up” this brings you to 50k +/- some provinces would get a bit more some a bit less going by current “minimum taxable” type thing, so if happen to get a crazy awesome job, year after that you walk away with 150k, then it is the 50k(you keep) the rest is following proper tax bracket amounts.

    If on the other hand, you made 62k, you would be taxed 50k taken away from this amount, the remainder is taxed as should be (example in ontario you would be paying $79 for taxes at least for 2016 levels. i.e 62k minus 50k(50k is basic given/earned that leave 12k “taxable” leaves as $79 “owing”

    The system can work, as we are a COUNTRY, there is no reason why some will get all the help in the world while others fend for themselves, so we should all be “sharing” in the basic income so we all get to move ahead as a COUNTRY with the only difference being in some provinces you make a bit more or a bit less, there is no reason at all folks should be unable to afford safe, comfortable housing, eat good food, have decent clothes, afford to go to school/training, move to better location and such in the modern age in a modern country.

    Anyways am done now, again just IMO fools thinking “:just add these amounts to OW/ODSP instead. sure, and those who get the assitance(when there are so many more that NEED IT but do not qualify, or will get cut off near instantly as soon as the “poor” are now actually making somewhat more)

    Example, living on under $600/mth maximum allowed assets is $2500 OW, you just got a cheque for $1350 that is a difference of $750, so you save some of it, give it a month 2 months or maybe even 3, no way are you living in any type of comfortable bare minimum situation with under ~$15k available $ anywhere in Canada for 1 year(i.e at or below poverty levels which is the bare minimum to survive i.e housing, basic needs) and $2500 as max allowable assets is worthless these days (housing alone being $640+, food etc),

    Will these people who were used to having assitance of $600 now getting an extra $750/mth are they supposed to go out and spend it all over the place, oh cant do that, cause you need to keep receipts etc and if you do not, or they are deemed not acceptable you get cut off or have to pay it all back(as you obviously did not need the assitance in the first place) What will you do about those situations, or will you say you are allowed max assets in all bank accounts based on the yearly maximum “assitance” 16,200 based on 1350/mth x 12mths?) The system(s) are BROKEN, 250+ MILLION dollar “new” computer system for OW/ODSP caused far more problems than it has helped, billions wasted/squandered on various other systems such as EI/WSIB/WCC/CPP etc etc, if you think just throwing more $$$ into those systems will solve the problem, you are foolish to say the least.

    B.I is a simple system that can work, whereas the current system(s) used for regulation/rules for the named EI/OW/ODSP/CPP/WSIB/WCC to name a few are so incredibly inefficient for those that are funding them as well as those that use/need them it is unreal, they saved billions getting rid of the simple penny, imagine how much can be saved by terminating outright wasted programs(and put the tax payers funds where they would do the most good vs doing the least) that cost much more to administer and fact check, then they pay out per annum?

  • abc xyz

    Well, it looks like Hamilton/Brantford (Brant County), Lindsay and Thunder Bay are the only 3 pilot sites for this mincome project. Will these only be the 3 locations tested over the next 3 years? Do the rest of us in the other cities have to suffer for another 3 years?

    Pathetic, Liberals just lost my vote and hopefully the majority of people in Ontario.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.